Detroit Pistons’ Isaiah Stewart hosts 50 kids from hometown at game; ‘love them to death’

Detroit Free Press

Not long ago, Isaiah Stewart was a fixture at his local Boys & Girls Clubs of America chapter. The Rochester, New York, native credits the organization for giving him, along with thousands across the country, an after-school safe haven.

On Friday, Stewart returned the favor.

The Detroit Pistons big man hosted 50 youths from the Boys and Girls Club from his hometown of Rochester at Friday’s home game against the San Antonio Spurs. The third-year big man paid for their transportation to and from Rochester, hotel accommodations, tickets to the game and food vouchers at LCA.

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It was also Stewart’s bobblehead night, so each kid was able to take home a at least one souvenir, too.

“I know it’s going to be a great feeling having them come from Rochester,” Stewart said Wednesday. “I know the kind of communities they grow up in, similar to what I grew up in. I can imagine myself being that young, coming from that community, coming up to watch NBA games. I know it’s going to be a great feeling for them and I’m excited.”

The event took shape last August, when he hosted the second edition of his Isaiah Stewart Basketball Camp in his hometown. The camp had free sessions for boys and girls basketball players from fifth-through-eighth grade and high school. Reggie Smith, the health and physical education coordinator at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Rochester, was an instructor at the camp. It was there that Stewart hatched the idea.

“I wanted to do something for the Boys & Girls Club,” Stewart said. “I told them I would come up with a plan. We got this together and it’s happened.”

Stewart said he grew up in a neighborhood where having a safe place was a necessity. The McQuaid Jesuit High School and Washington alumnus certainly benefited; he developed into one of the top recruits in the country and is averaging a career-high 11.3 points and 8.2 rebounds this season.

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Friday was an important night for Stewart, who has used his platform with the Pistons to give back to his community.

“I pretty much went whenever my dad allowed me to,” Stewart said. “Growing up in that neighborhood, it was very dangerous. I already grew up with an overprotective dad, so I had to beg him to let me go to the Boys & Girls Club. It was right across the street from my dad, too. Right up the street from my house. I went whenever I was allowed to. Great people, those people are my family and I definitely love them to death.”

Contact Omari Sankofa II at osankofa@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa.

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